12/1/2000 | 5 MINUTE READ

Quality Capable

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Here is an assortment of comparatively new tools that can be put to work to help assure quality in production operations.


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Easy & Effective

Conveyor bridge
Get to the point, quickly.

Simplifying in-process manual 3D measurement—wherein the operator requires little (if any) training, as where to position the measurement probe is indicated by a green light that moves from point to point along the part to be measured—is the idea behind the Control Station from FARO Technologies (Lake Mary, FL).

The system can be used as a go/no-go gage or as a coordinate measuring machine. Measured data is usefully displayed in a variety of formats.

Check it Out

Hook up as many as 16 LVDT (linear variable differential transducer) probes to a PC and achieve accurate measures of

Scanning improved.

 characteristics including TIA, contour matching, concentricity, circular runout, and total runout. Of course, this probe-PC linkup works via the 916 Precision Gaging system from DataMyte, a Rockwell Automationbusiness (Minnetonka, MN). It uses what's called Simulscan technology; it simultaneously captures instantaneous "snapshots" of problems, thereby providing accuracy and repeatability while eliminating the errors sometimes found in scanning. 


Steel Wheels


Checking out wheel discs.

Dunlop Topy Wheels (Coventry, England) had been using feeler and plug gages to check the center discs that are stamped for the steel auto wheels it produces; there are 40 disc variations in production. But looking for more information, the company made a switch to coordinate measuring machines (CMMs): "With the CMMs, we're not limited to inspections at the beginning of every batch run. We have time to carry out additional checks, as well as to do the same hourly checks of safety-critical parameters we did before," says John Sonnenstein, quality manager at the firm. The company is using CMMs from LK Metrology Systems (in the U.S. in Brighton, MI). The CMMs-model G90C and a model G80 (which is 10 years old, but brought up to date with the same control software as the G90C) – are interfaced with LK's Quality Analyst software, which provides important SPC information.



Accurate Operator

Handles big tasks with accuracy.


The Sirius 8 coordinate measuring machine (CMM) from American SIP (Elmsford, NY) can handle sizeable measurement tasks, as it has a working envelope of 59.1 x 39.4 x 31.5 in. (X, Y, Z) and a load capacity of 3,300 lb. The CMM can handle this thanks, in large part, to a cast iron closed frame. The measurement resolution is 0.1 µm. The Winisip programming software that has been developed for the equipment is Windows-based (operating with 95, 98, and NT); it can import IGES, UNISURF, SET, and VDA files from CAD systems; and DMIS programs.






Measuring diameters in process.

Making parts in high-production screw or transfer machines and want to know that the part diameters are what they are supposed to be while the part is still in process? If so, then the DF-040 available from SPC Innovations (Stevensville, MI) can be a solution. The DF-040 is self-centering and provides a capacity up to 40 mm and a measuring range of 2 mm. The gage repeatability is 0.01 mm. The gage checks parts during indexing, thereby not resulting in any additions to machine cycle time. And it is a heck of a lot more efficient than having people hand sort parts.






Looking at layers.

Because you may want to perform coating thickness measurements with more than one process yet not want to have multiple pieces of equipment to do it,Fischer Technology (Windsor, CT) has developed the Fischerscope MMS. The configuration is a single base unit and multiple "Smart Probes." The probes permit using magnetic induction (to measure paint and zinc/zinc alloy together), eddy current (which allows measuring zinc/zinc alloy through paint), beta backscatter (to measure paint) or a combination of these methods. One probe is particularly smart in that it combines eddy current and magnetic induction capabilities.


Best of Both Worlds


Check it where you make it.

Although everyone wants to have a handle on part measurements while the part is on the production floor, one problem is that many coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are designed for operation in environments that may be somewhere other than the factory floor. L.S. Starrett (Athol, MA) has come up with a solution to this issue with what is called a "shop-hardened" CMM, the Rapid Check 2. It has a measuring capacity of 24 x 24 x 18 in. (X, Y, Z) and provides a volumetric accuracy of 0.0004 in. The CMM has a gantry configuration. Solid granite side members are rigid, thermally stable, and dampen vibrations (which is certainly important when the CMM may be in proximity to a machine tool). There is a thin-walled steel, centrally mounted Z-axis. The guideways are fully enclosed. In place of the ballscrew drive that is common to many CMMs, the Rapid Check 2 employs a self-aligning, backlash-free friction drive that even adjusts for wear. Because the machine doesn't need to be hooked up to shop air—needing only to be plugged in to a standard 110- or 220-V electrical outlet—it can be placed on the floor where required. All this and a starting price of $29,950.


Hold It


Modular system to facilitate fixturing.

Although the Alufix system from Germany (available in the U.S. from Paul W. Marino Gages; Warren, MI) may resemble a high-tech version of something that you may have played with when you were a kid, when it comes to modular fixturing, it is the real thing. Latest in its lineup is the XS system, which permits the fixturing of small parts for visual inspection. Witte Bleckede has also developed a special rotary angle table made of high-tensile aluminum for handling parts with complex shapes that are difficult to access for measuring (e.g., cylinder heads). The whole point behind this equipment is reconfigurability without giving up on accuracy.


Compact & Capable

Tight-tolerance gaging on the shop floor is the purpose of the FixtureMate from Intra Corp. (Westland, MI), a comparatively compact unit (requiring 10-ft2 of floor space). The unit's measuring envelope is 14 x 14 x 12 in. (X, Y, Z); an optional version goes to 24 x 24 x 18 in. The linear accuracy of each axis at 24 in. is 0.005 mm. Although there is dedicated custom fixturing for parts, it is claimed that design changes can be accommodated without costly retooling in some cases. There is a DMIS interface to link with CAD systems.